I've added a poll to the top of the sidebar. I'm curious to know what motivates you to buy historical fiction from a previously unpublished author. More particularly, I'm interested in how much the presence or absence of recognizable historical figures, what some editors call "marquee names" (ie. Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, Martha Washington), has on your decision to buy a novel.
Would you buy a novel based on your interest in some aspect of the setting--the country, the era, an event--whether or not the characters are historical or fictional? Will you only buy a novel if it features a marquee name you are familiar with and want to learn more about (by extension, books featuring completely fictional characters don't interest you)? Will you buy a novel regardless of the fictional state of the characters if the plot summary sounds intriguing? Or do other factors--title, cover art, author blurbs--carry the heaviest weight in your decision to purchase a new author's book?
I'm sure you'll object that each of these factors play a role, but for the sake of argument, you are only allowed to choose one. Imagine you are holding the novel of a new historical fiction author in your hands at the bookstore--which factor will matter most in your decision to buy?
I'll gather results for ten days and then summarize... Thanks for your input!